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Rabaja, simple and delicious in Barbaresco

Villasampaguita | Feb 15, 201108:15 PM

I hope we are not boring Chow readers with another review from our files of living in Piedmont for 10 years, the first time we ate at Rabaja back in 2004. Not much has changed and we still have never had a guest who didn't like the restaurant. Please note that, annoyingly, the restaurant review data base map insists that the location is Neive which is incorrect.

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I know we are always sounding off about how Piedmont has some of the best wine and food in Italy, so we would like to share a description of a nice little lunch we had today in Barbaresco, famous for its wines. Actually we had an appointment with one of the local wineries, but couldn’t find it, stopped at the local enoteca located in the old church – wonderful – for directions and got chatting to a Scottish lady whose husband owns a local winery, she was giving an art show in the church, so by now we decided to miss our appointment as they would be on lunch break and get lunch ourselves.

So we ended up in Rabaja (pronounced Rab-bye-ya) and what a wonderful treat. The restaurant overlooks the Tanaro River with snow-covered vineyards stretching down the slopes and up on the other side to Magliano castle, and then the Alps were sparkling on the distant horizon. Too bad it wasn’t summer as we could have sat outside under the vine pergola, but we had a window table to compensate.

We treated ourselves to 5 anti-pasti (well we are in Piedmont after all). First off slices of duck over lightly steamed endive and with a drizzle of Balsamico, perfectly complimentary, then slightly cured slices of veal offset with Parmagiano cheese and olive oil. Next came the sformato (flan) made with asparagus, absolutely delicious, followed by yellow peppers with Bagna Cauda (a Piedmontese speciality – literally hot bath, a dip made from garlic, anchovies and olive oil) and then cabbage stuffed with minced meat and fried in an egg batter.

We made it through these dishes and ordered a primo piatto each, Tim had a gnocchi made with squash and gorgonzola sauce and Rina had Agnolotti al Plin (local homemade ravioli) stuffed with eggplant and with creamed leek sauce, which was heavenly, and all washed down (actually that’s not the correct term, but you get the idea) with a Barbaresco 99 from the proprietor’s family winery.

No room for second, on offer were rabbit, veal and beef braised in Barolo wine, but we wanted some room for desert, so we had a mixed dolce plate each – a fig torta soaked in amaretto, pears cooked in wine and panacotta with strawberry sauce – scrumptious.

And the bill – a few cents over 50 euro, not bad, but then we didn’t have any tartufo. Would we go again – most definitely? Ciao from Piedmont.

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Ristorante Rabaja
Strada della Stazione 12, Barbaresco, Piemonte 12050, IT

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